The ponds of Epping are quite familiar to me, many of which I have fished over the years but after being taken to Warren pond last week I had forgotten how atmospheric these waters are. Some are well known and others are quite insignificant, so to honour them equally I have decided to document them over the next year. Here we have Warren pond in the first two images and lastly The Lost pond or Blackweir as it is officially called. Personally I like the name Lost pond because it sits in the forest unconnected to any path or track.
After a few weeks away in both the French and English Riviera I find myself back in London with a twelve-year-old to keep entertained for a few days after the devastating news that his laptop has fallen foul of a hardware failure. Next week I have a two-week stretch looking after my two-year old daughter, a much more daunting task, this week though I thought a digital free two days with my stepson could manifest itself as a mini boy’s own adventure.
In my basement along with a collection of fishing tackle, pots of paint and various tools is a canoe suspended from the rafters that has for the last two years hung dormant, today seemed the right day to get her out (I think one speaks of a boat in a female context?) and take her down the River Lea. This particular canoe has taken me into the drink on a few occasions, she seems to sense a nervous pilot akin to a horse. The canoe twitches from side to side until the rower relaxes or the nervousness results in a dunking! Once settled though, a serene calm takes over and the river is experienced from a completely new perspective. To sit low down in the water is really quite interesting for an angler who normally spends so much time looking at the river as it passes by, in a canoe you become an integral part of the rivers ebb and flow. The Lea was looking splendid though, the water was clear and fairly high for the height of summer, the banks over-grown and looking quite wild. Not much fishing goes on here, well perhaps a little bit?
By lunchtime the clouds were gathering and a darkness came over the river that suggested it was time to set off for home.
Once home I thought it was time to put on a ‘proper’ film, I had forgotten about the piggy scene!
For our second day we were to go in search of The Lost Pond in Epping Forest, travel light and catch ourselves a mid-summer crucian. The Lost Pond or Blackweir as it is also know is set in the forest away from any road which involves a short walk, this I like, it keeps the lazy anglers away. After passing by Baldwins pond and walking through ancient woodland which was just starting to turn to gold, The Lost Pond appears in a small clearing, surrounded mainly in reeds broken by six gravel banked swims.
With us both fishing, our first three casts resulted in three tiny golden crucians and then nothing, not a nibble! We only stayed for about an hour and a half, trying every swim but nothing would bite, one or two missed chances but not a fish, very strange. Then on my last cast a slight movement to the float resulted in what looked like a rudd/crucian hybrid, in its imperfections it was a perfect end to a two-day, non-digital, 3D adventure.
Just recently Chris Yates re-discovered these old fishing diaries from the early eighties, actually his son William did, found in a box of Christmas decorations after thirty years, perhaps Christmas is not such a big celebration in the Yates household!
Anyhow I’m posting this up as the book will be published through the online publishers Unbound, but only if the books gets enough individuals to place pre-orders. This is a new concept in book publishing which takes any financial risk away from the publishers, personally I think this is a little lilly livered of the publishers but I guess times have changed with cash flow and risk assesment. I have pre-ordered a hard-bound copy for £20.00 and hope that a few of you may add to the tally and get this lost diary published, I’m sure it will be worth the £20.00 and the thirty year wait.
Click on the link or the image below to find out more plus you can see a nice interview with Chris Yates and an interesting look around his study.
Update: 8th May 2013
A quick update to say that the Lost Diary has now reached its full funding. With the book already written the wait should be not too long, unless Chris mislays it again!
Twenty or so years ago I walked into 61 Pall Mall and was addressed as “Sir” quite an achievement for me at that time as I was a scruffy looking art student dressed in ripped jeans and a leather biker jacket. The man who addressed me looked more like an undertaker rather than the normal tweed clad (this is how you are supposed to dress like in the countryside young man, don’t you know) shop assistant. I was addressed with respect and asked no awkward questions regarding my request, a Hardy waxed wading jacket. A suitable jacket was found, wrapped and paid for with a credit card that was on the brink of letting me down, those two dreaded words ‘card declined’ thankfully didn’t flash up and I marched triumphantly out of Hardys with a waxed jacket. I was not going to wear this on the chalk streams of southern England but in the shady bars and night clubs of Shoreditch, East London. One day I would wear it on the Itchen or Nadder but until then I was to make my rural fashion statement in the Vale of Hoxton!
Soon after Hardy’s of number 61 Pall Mall closed down, my wading jacket still hangs in the basement and has since been blessed on the rivers banks of southern England for brown trout and Scotland in search of salmon. Looking back now I never thought that 61 Pall Mall was an era on the brink of extinction, I thought this establishment was to go on for ever, sadly it didn’t. If I had known of its impending demise I would have spent more time in there.
For those who remembers the wooden panelled shop and its calm atmosphere only broken by the occasional New York accent of an excited over seas visitor, you may also remember the changing faces of the shop window…